UK businesses trade worldwide through 40 agreements with 70 countries. But we risk losing these arrangements if post-Brexit continuity is not secured. If preferential agreements aren’t rolled over, UK companies become uncompetitive overnight, lose profits and risk being wiped out entirely.
It’s vital that companies are able to continue to trade on pre-agreed terms, avoiding tariffs and other market access barriers. We’re urgently calling on the government to secure continuity in any event. This must happen now if business is to escape disruption.
Secure continuity with the largest of the EU’s trade partners by Brexit day as a priority
If some trade agreements fall away, urgently seek to roll them over to reduce the time firms are trading under unfavourable WTO terms
In a deal scenario, ensure all 40 EU trade agreements are converted into UK bilateral deals by the end of transition
In a ‘no deal’ Brexit scenario, many of our trade agreements are at risk of falling away. Even if the UK secures a Withdrawal Agreement with the EU, the EU’s trade agreements will still need to be rolled over in time for the end of the transition period.
For whichever agreements fall away, the UK would be trading on WTO terms. Vehicles sold to Mexico would face a 15-20% tariff - probably wiping out some car manufacturers’ sales. Whisky would face a 20% tariff in South Korea, equating to a huge £14m. The examples of risks to existing markets go on and on.
Securing continuity protects British businesses currently depending on benefits of international trade. It ensures they remain competitive and can continue serving their markets.
"It is absolutely crucial for the competitiveness of UK firms that the government secures continuity of trade with the EU’s third country trade partners. Despite the hard work of Ministers and officials, it is clear that some agreements will not be in place for Brexit day. Business needs clarity and certainty about its future trading arrangements."Ben Digby, Director of International Trade & Investment, CBI
Trade agreements significantly improve market access across the globe for UK firms, which is why maintaining them is so important for prosperity. Without them, there is evidence that business would be subject to tariffs with devastating effects.
Whisky exports to South Korea are worth £71m a year. A 20% tariff would mean £14m of tariffs and whisky producers losing a lot of trade.
In Mexico, vehicles would face tariffs of 15-20% which could wipe out premium car brands in that market.
In the first year of the EU-Canada agreement (CETA) being in force, sales of UK goods to Canada increased by 14%.
The CBI campaigns tirelessly on behalf of our members so that business creates prosperity for all. Learn more about the work we do and the impact we are making on this issue.
Understanding member priorities for EU trade agreements
Preparing for future customs arrangements
CBI response to the DIT trade white paper
Exports start at home: Carolyn Fairbairn speech
CBI's responds to trade policy announcements
Chilean Ambassador visits the CBI
CBI meets with Japanese officials
Championing member interests in Brussels
Rolling over the EU-Mexico agreement
CBI and BusinessEurope highlight importance of trade continuity
CBI represents UK business at the Business 7 (B7) France Summit
The CBI secures seat on the government’s steering committee for trade continuity
Insights from the first CBI delegation to Mexico
Strengthening our ties with Japan
CBI responds to the Department for International Trade inquiry into the UK’s future trading relationship with Japan
UK-Japan Trade Agreement: does it go beyond securing continuity?
Join the CBI
Our members are our mandate, and the reason we’re the most influential business organisation in the UK. Join the voice of business, and help us campaign to secure continuous trade once the UK leaves the European Union.Find out more
Have your say
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Make a difference
This campaign is led by the CBI's International Trade team.
Contact Ben Digby, Director of International Trade and Investment, to find out what UK business urgently needs to secure continuity of trade and how you can support it.